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A human scale city

Portray of the Destination
It is the capital of the province of Alava and the Basque Country and has the highest ratio of green areas per inhabitant of any provincial capital. The UNO selected the Green Ring of Vitoria-Gasteiz among the 100 best projects in the world at the Third International Competition of Good Practices. Vitoria-Gasteiz has a number of museums that bear witness to the history, art, nature and even the industrial tradition of the city. A wide and attractive range of possibilities is available to anyone interested in this aspect of culture.

Vitoria is an active, multicultural city in permanent expansion. After Gerona, it is the second Spanish city with greater quality of life, and occupies the first place in the list of green areas and cultural sites per person. The characteristics that best define it are the importance given to environmental issues, the creation of pedestrian precincts in large areas of the city centre, a varied offer of cultural activities, public services (Civic Centres), and sports facilities, which make this a city designed for living.

Vitoria-Gasteiz has not lost its human dimension. A municipal policy has contributed to maintain its balance, conjugating the social urbanism, the environment, the relations and initiatives with first class services and a network of social-cultural and sport Civic Centers that unites the citizen life and decentralizes the local administration. It is a city of services par excellence and the economy and planning within the innovative European currents are directed to this sector.

We would like to thank the Vitoria Town Hall department of "Servicio Municipal de Congresos y Turismo" for the photographs provided.

Photographs by Oscar Fernández Santana.

Capital of the province, as well as of the Autonomous Region of the Basque Country, Vitoria is located on the Llanura Alavesa (the plain of Alava). This Lowland is a basin of about 800 km2 of smoothly waved surface, about 550 m over the sea level that stretches towards the West the connecting corridor constituted by the pre-Pyrenean basin of Pamplona.

The basin is closed by the dividing Atlantic-Mediterranean waters, to the North: Gorbea, Arlaban, Elgea, and Aitzgorri mountain ranges, with an average altitude of 1,000 m and by the Central Alavés mountains to the South, a prolongation of the syncline of the Urbasa mountain, mounts of Iturrieta and mounts of Vitoria, also of 1,000 m average altitude. The easiest connection is towards Navarre and Guipúzcoa by the Burunda and Barranca corridors, and towards the Ebro Valley and the Meseta by the Puebla de Arganzon hollow, opened by the Zadorra River. The lowest points of the mountainous alignments of the North and the South respectively ensure communications towards the Basque coast and La Rioja.

The city has taken advantage from a privileged situation in this crossroads, being the Basque and state capital with greater population growth between 1950 and 1975. This demographic increase took place at the same time as the installation of manufacturing centers that are a result of the overcrowding relief of the important Biscayan-Guipuzcoan nucleus. In this way, Vitoria-Gasteiz is today an average city, with an approximated population of 220,000 inhabitants and a predominant industrial sector, followed by services and administration.

Its layout, a combination of constructed and open spaces, is the result of the historical evolution of the city, the topography, and the urban functions that have been varying along the years. That is why Vitoria-Gasteiz displays a regular layout, as a consequence of a planned expansion through all the ages. It is a polynuclear radius-concentric layout whose different sections reflect the city’s growth stages.

Temperatures are moderate throughout the year. It rains more frequently in the spring and autumn and there is some snow in winter. Summers are not excessively hot. The average temperature in summer is 20°C and in winter 8°C.

When to go
Thanks to a climate with no extreme temperatures, besides scarce snowing in winter, and because of the great cultural and leisure activities offered by the city, Vitoria can be visited all year round.

Vitoria was founded in 1181 by the King of Navarre, Sancho VI as 'Nueva Victoria' on the hill where the old settlement of Gasteiz was. He built fortifications around the town. In 1200, Vitoria passed to the Kingdom of Castile, taken by the troops of Alfonso VIII, that provided it with the first Gothic enlargement. Alfonso X enlarged it in 1256 towards the East with the new streets of guilds. It was an important Jewish ghetto before the expulsion enacted by the Catholic Monarchs which cemetery is still preserved as a park with a memorial monument of its past.

The city was progressively enlarged and in 1431 was granted the title of 'City' by King Juan II of Castile. It became a defensive bastion coveted by the kingdoms of Navarre and Castile during the 11th and 12th centuries. Due to that first defensive function, its narrow and shady streets surround the original oval, constituting parallel rows of houses with respect to the medieval walls (of which only some sections and inner doors are preserved).

The principal historical episode is the Battle of Vitoria on 21 June 1813 when the French troops were beaten by the Duke of Wellington and French control of Spain ended. In the 19th century, and due to the fact that the city was becoming small, a neoclassic enlargement was planned, and little by little the city layout gave Vitoria its actual shape.

In the last decades Vitoria has tripled its population as a result of the growth experienced by the industrial sector in the Sixties and Seventies, and by the services sector today, thanks to its condition as Basque capital. Vitoria is the capital of the Basque Country by decision of the Basque Parliament since May 20th, 1980. This quality has caused the creation of different institutional organisms within the Autonomous Region. This is why Vitoria is the place chosen by great European, Asian and North American companies (Mercedes Benz, Michelin, Gamesa, or Daewoo) to settle part of its industrial production. This profile had as a result that, in addition to the local inheritance, it has a very varied cultural origin, having received a great number of national emigrants at first and later on Latin American and Maghrebian ones, during the second half of the 20th century.

The most important ones are:

- Carnivals. February. Carnivals are a long-held tradition in Vitoria-Gasteiz and in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest. Fancy dress, dancing, musical groups, and floats transform the city during the period leading up to Lent.

- San Prudencio Parade. April 27. These are the festivities in honour to San Prudencio, the patron saint of Alava. On the eve of the festival, bands of trumpeters, clarinet players and drummers meet in the Plaza de la Provincia and play.

- San Prudencio. April 28. This festival is extremely popular among the inhabitants of this province and consists of a procession to the village of Armentia to venerate the relics of the Saint. The inhabitants of Alava, many of them dressed in the typical costumes of this province, meet in the broad meadows that surround the basilica.

- Day of the "Blusa". July 25. Traditionally, garlic is sold on the Cuesta de San Francisco during the morning. In the afternoon, the festivity is held in the bullring where the entry and exit of the bulls is made more enjoyable by the “paseíllo” through the streets of the groups of "blusas" (young men wearing the traditional loose shirt or blouse).

- Virgen Blanca. August 4-9. On August 4, the most important festivity of Vitoria-Gasteiz begins with the pealing of the bells of the Church of San Miguel and the traditional “chupinazo”, a firework which is let off to mark the beginning of the festivals in honour of the Virgin Blanca, the patron saint of the city. During the five days of festivities, the groups of "blusas", "txarangas" and "fanfarres" (popular music bands) parade through the streets, while citizens take part in a large number of festive events, shows, open-air dancing, bullfights, etc.

- Traditional religious procession to Olárizu – 2nd Monday in September. Coinciding with the traditional procession of the City Council on horseback around the boundary markers of the municipality, there is a popular procession to Olárizu, which consists of walking up to the cross placed at the summit of the hill.

Its gastronomy is based on fresh, seasonal products. The basis of one of its most famous dishes are the snails and wild mushrooms or "perretxikos" (also called St George's mushrooms). We recommend you to try a dish of tender broad beans done in the local style, snails "a la alavesa", potatoes "a la riojana" or stuffed chard stems.

For your second course, you can try some good fish, roast suckling pig or game such as "stewed quail". For dessert you can try "Gasteiz tart", "goxuas" or "chocolate truffles", among other sweets. But we must not forget the Idiazabal Cheese or the world-famous wines of the Rioja Alavesa or the Txakoli of Alava (a young white wine).

Basic Dictionary
YES: si. NO: no. HELLO: hola. GOOD BYE: adios. GOOD MORNING: buenos días. GOOD AFTERNOON: buenas tardes. GOOD NIGHT: buenas noches. PLEASE: por favor. SORRY: lo siento. THANK YOU: gracias. DOCTOR: médico. PHARMACY: farmacia. NUMBERS: 1: un. 2: dos. 3: tres. 4: cuatro. 5: cinco. 6: seis. 7: siete. 8: ocho. 9: nueve. 10: diez. 11: once. 12: doce. 13: trece. 14: catorce. 15: quince. 16: dieciséis. 17: diecisiete. 18: dieciocho. 19: diecinueve. 20: veinte. 21: veintiuno. 22: veintidós. 30: treinta. 40: cuarenta. 50: cincuenta. 60: sesenta. 70: setenta. 80: ochenta. 90: noventa. 100: cien. 1000: mil. DAYS OF THE WEEK: MONDAY: lunes. TUESDAY: martes. WEDNESDAY: miércoles. THURSDAY: jueves. FRIDAY: viernes. SATURDAY: sábado. SUNDAY: domingo. COMMON WORDS: BIG/SMALL: grande/pequeño. HOT/COLD: caliente/frío. OPEN/CLOSED: abierto/cerrado. GOOD/BAD: bueno/malo. NEW/OLD: nuevo/viejo. PUSH/PULL: empujar/tirar. ENTRANCE/EXIT: entrada/salida. LADIES/GENTLEMEN: señoras/señores. FAR/NEAR: lejos/cerca. LEFT/RIGHT: izquierda/derecha. TAXI: taxi. BUS: autobús. MEALS: BREAKFAST: desayuno. LUNCH: comida. DINNER: cena. MENU: menú. WINES: vinos. DESSERT: postre. THE BILL: la cuenta. COMMON SENTENCES: DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?: ¿Habla inglés?. I DON'T UNDERSTAND: no entiendo. WHERE IS IT?: ¿donde está? HOW MUCH IS IT: ¿Cuánto es? WHAT TIME IS IT: ¿Qué hora es? COULD YOU HELP ME: ¿Puede ayudarme?

Euro is the local currency. It is divided into 100 cents. There are 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 euro banknotes. There are also 1 and 2 euro coins, together with 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cent coins.

Currency Exchange
1 EUR (Euro) = 1.20 U$D (United States Dollar), 1 EUR (Euro) = 0.66 GBP (Sterling Pounds)

In comparison with other European Union countries, and perhaps due to its high tourist vocation, Spain is one of the cheapest countries for travelling. Obviously, prices vary depending on the season, being higher during the summer and lower in the winter.

Useful Info

Official name
Spanish Kingdom
Time Zone
GMT+1 (GMT+2 from the last Sunday in March until the Saturday before the last October Sunday)
Official Language
Spanish, Basque
Surface area
276.8 km2
226,490 inhabitants
Political Regime
Constitutional Monarchy
Public holidays
January 1st : New Year. January 6th : The Lord’s Ephifany. March 19th : Saint Joseph Celebration. March-April: Holy Week. March 26th : Corpus Christi. May 1st : Labor Day. August 15th : Virgin’s Assumption. October 12th : National celebration of Spain. November 1st : All Saints Day. December 6th : Day of the Spanish Constitution. December 8th : Day of the Immaculate Conception. December 9th : St Leocadia. December 25th : Christmas.
Catholicism is the predominant religion. Nevertheless, many mosques and other religious temples are found in the city.
90% Catholics
Arrival / Departure
The city lays in the middle of the Llanada Alavesa (Plain of Alava), on the way that joins Madrid to the rest of Europe, via the N-1 highway. The city has always been a connecting axis and has acted like a bridge between Europe and the rest of the Iberian Peninsula. The city is less than an hour from Bilbao, one hour from Pamplona, two hours from Santander, three hours from Zaragoza and less than four hours from Madrid. Vitoria-Gasteiz offers an important transport network such us road, railway and flights networks with connections to the rest of Spain and Europe.
Taking into account the importance that tourism has in Spain, the security of the tourists is a true priority for the country. However, some general recommendations are given to the visitors like carrying the required money when going out and not the total amount taken for the holidays, also precautions need to be taken in busy places to prevent possible thefts.
The European Union tourists do not need visa to enter Spain. Neither those citizens of the United States, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and the rest of the Latin American countries, though a return ticket must be bought. Travelers from Australia, Anguilla, Bermuda, Canada, Cyprus, South Korea, Hong Kong, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Israel, Japan, Macao, Malaysia, Montserrat, New Zealand, Saint Helena, Singapore and Turk & Caicos do not either need visa provided that they do not stay more than 90 days in Spain.
Clothing, which does not have very defined rules, changes according to the climatic period, the place or the circumstances. The Spanish usually do not over dress to attend to work or to share leisure time with others; in general informal comfortable clothes are used, without forgetting that during the month of January, warm clothes are a must.
220 or 225 volts AC, 50 Hz. Sockets take two round plugs (European type plugs with rounded pins are used).
Radio and Television
National TV channels: TVE1, TVE2, Antena 3, Tele 5 Cuatro. Local TV channels: TeleVitoria, 47 UHF (www.televitoria.es); LOCALIA GASTEIZ Televisión (www.canalgasteiz.com); Alto Nervión Televisión , 51 (www.laudio.tv); ÁLAVA 7.

Radio Stations: RNE, Cadena SER, Cadena 100, Radio Clásica, Cadena COPE, Onda Cero, 40 Principales.
The Spanish phone code is 34 and the Vitoria code is 945. To make a phone call to another country you must first dial 00 and then the international code of the country you would like to call to and finally dial the subscriber phone number. For phone calls within Spain a special code is not required.

The most important mobile phone operators are Amena – www.amena.com-, Movistar/Telefónica Móviles -www.movistar.tsm.es- and Vodafone-www.vodafone.es-. Telephone booths are very common along the streets and they work with coins or phone cards. There are also the called locutorios, they are establishments with many phone booths, where coins or cards are not needed, just pay in cash the phone call after the conversation. In many of this kind of places it is also possible to send and receive faxes and there are computers with internet connection as well.
945-16 11 11
Fire Brigade
945-16 11 61
Tourist health care services
Newspapers and Magazines
Besides receiving all the national newspapers such as: Abc, El Mundo, El País, La Razón, La Vanguardia, there are local newspapers such as: NOTICIAS DE ALAVA, which is written and edited in Vitoria and can also be read online at: www.noticiasdealava.com.

Magazines are: “Época”, “Semana”, “Interviú”, “Primera Línea” and “Tiempo de Hoy”.
Postal Service
The Spanish postal service system is efficient. Letters within Europe usually arrive after 3 to 5 days. A special delivery costs a minimum of 2.5 euros. The opening hours go from 8:30 to 20:30 on weekdays and Saturdays from 8:30 to 13:00. www.correos.es.

Fedex and UPS international postal services are also available. Vitoria’s Postal offices are located on:

POSTAS, 9, Phone: +34 945 154 689
PAMPLONA, 31, Phone: +34 945 191 198
SIERRAS ALAVESAS, 14, Phone: +34 945 259 064
CUBA, 2, Phone: +34 945 255 262
Health Care Services
Spain’s health system is generally good, since it provides a large health center network. Within these dependencies, primary care and specialized assistance are provided. Besides not having any type of alert, it is necessary to take precaution when sun-bathing, since, due to his harshness, it can cause sunstroke. The following Health care centers are located in the city:

- GESTION SANITARIA ALAVESA, S.L., Pl. Zaldiaran, 5 bajo
- ETORKIZUN BIDE, S.L.,San Prudencio 27
- RESIDENCIA JUAN PABLO I, Portal de Lasarte 91; .- LOVI-97, S.L.; Pl. Simón Bolivar, 13-5 D
Vitoria-Gasteiz airport (VIT) is located 9 km from the city. It has a free, unguarded vehicle car park and a bus park. Once inside the airport you can reach the city by bus or taxi. The telephone of the Radio Taxi service is +34 945 273 500.

For flight information, call: +34 945 163 591 or visit the web site: http://www.via-vitoria-airport.com Loiu (Bilbao). If you arrive at Bilbao airport you can take the urban bus service (Bizkaibus) that takes you to the central Bus Station, in less than one hour.
Public Transport
The city can be covered by car, bicycle or urban bus. Vitoria-Gasteiz is a pioneering city in the use of computerised traffic coordination. Within the Europolis project, in 1985 it was selected as the "safest municipality". In the city centre, a maximum parking time of one hour and a half has been established.

The city has several kilometres of bicycle lanes. Moreover, two years ago, the City Council of Vitoria-Gasteiz initiated a free bicycle lending service. Bicycles are available from June to November. Also, attempts have been made to encourage people to use bicycles to get around the city. The "Park and Pedal" project offers free bicycles to users of car parks located in the city centre. It also provides 15 urban bus services that cover the city. There is a bus every 15 minutes approximately.
RENFE Regional Train Network provides services within the Basque Country and connects this region with Castile and León and Navarre. If you opt to get there by train, the general information and reservations telephone of RENFE (Spanish National Railways) is +34 902 240 202. The address of the train station is: Eduardo Dato, 46.
All buses arrive at the bus station located in Calle Los Herrán. Its exact address and telephone number are as follows: Los Herrán, 50, Phone: +34 945 258 400. The following bus companies operate in the city: Bilman Bus, Continental Auto, Eurobus, Alegría Hnos., Grupo Alsa-Enatcar, Grupo Arriaga, La Burundés SA, La Unión, Pesa, Socitransa, Vivaza.
The city lays in the middle of the Llanada Alavesa (Plain of Alava), on the way that joins Madrid to the rest of Europe, via the N-1 highway. The city has always been a connecting axis and has acted like a bridge between Europe and the rest of the Iberian Peninsula. The city is less than an hour from Bilbao, one hour from Pamplona, two hours from Santander, three hours from Zaragoza and less than four hours from Madrid. It is connected to Bilbao through the N-622 and N-240 roads and to San Sebastián and Pamplona by the N-1, N-102 and N-104 roads.

Car Rentals
The main car rental agencies within the city are:

- Sercolux, Portal de Gamarra, 11 - Pab. 3 01013, Phone: 00 34 945 276 969 / 24 h. Phone: 00 34 629 468 800 Fax: 00 34 945 275 959.

- BERAMEDICAR S.L. Classic (Rolls-Royce, Jaguar) and modern (Mercedes and 7 passenger vans) cars for Weddings, Airport rides, guided tours, etc. C/ Extremadura nº7, Phone: 0034 659 611 627 – 00 34 945 122 972 beramendicar@hotmail.com http://www.beramendicar.com.

- AUTORENTAL Car and Van rental, Calle Cadena y Eleta Street, 2 (Parque de la Florida) 01008, Phone: 0034 945 155 358. www.geocities.com/vi_autorental vto60@hotmail.com.

- EUROPCAR Foronda Airport, 01196, Phone: 00 34 945 163 644.

- EUSKO RENTING Alto de Armentia, 7, 01007, Phone: +34 902 100 745.
Due to its geographic location, the city cannot be accessed by boat.
Destination Tourism Office in Spain
Spanish embassy in the destination
Taking pictures
See climate
Currency converter
A dinner
10 to 25 Euros, approximately.
A coffee
1 Euro
The taxi
1.10 euros initial fare (standard), 1.44 (night fare); 1.65 (public holidays).
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2006 One Planet Travel - 28 Nov 2015
One Planet Travel is a completely free Travel Guide that provides information about the best luxury tourist destinations, luxury 5 star hotels and activities to help you plan your holidays. We offer up to date information on over 120 luxury destinations in Spain and all around the world.
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